Five tips for managing your medication

Taking medicine safely when you have sight loss can be challenging, but our tips for organising and managing them can help you to confidently take the right dose as recommended by a medical professional, at the right time.

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1. Labelling and identifying your medication

For your safety, make sure all of your medications are clearly labelled, and that you understand their dosages and the number of doses of each medication you have.

  • Most prescriptions or over-the-counter medication come with Braille on the packet but if you prefer to read large print labelling, ask your pharmacist if they can help.
  • Label your medication with Braille, PenFriend labels or tactile markers such as bump-ons or Tacti-mark to help you tell your medicine apart. Alternatively, you can stick the label on a piece of card, put a hole in the card and then use a rubber band or string to attach it to the container.
  • If you have a few prescriptions in similar packaging, you can use a hairband or rubber band to help tell them apart. You could also add a tactile marker or band for each dose that needs to be taken a day.
  • If you have some remaining vision, read your prescription labels with a magnifier or other low vision aid. There are also apps you can download to make your phone work as a low vision aid, such as, weZoom for Android users and Brighter and Bigger for Android and iPhone users.

2. Reading dosage information

If reading the printed instructions isn't an option for you, try using Talking Tins or PenFriend to record the dosage instructions and other important information.

There are smartphone apps that can help you read medication instructions:

  • Seeing AI: reads text, describes objects, identifies people, and scans barcodes.
  • Be My Eyes: connects you with a sighted volunteer via a video call.

If you have a smart speaker such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, you can record the key information for example, how much and when to take your medication. You can then ask the smart speaker to remind you what to take at the correct time.

3. Storing your medication

Using a organised system can keep you from serious harm. Whichever system you decide to use, make sure it works for you so that you can find your different medications easily. Here are few organisation tips:

  • Use a Dosette pill organiser with Braille, tactile markings or large print to help you organise your medication. Several different types of pillboxes are available, depending on how many times a day you need to take medication. Dosette boxes are particularly useful if you take multiple doses at different times in the day.
  • If you have a complicated medication schedule, you can ask your pharmacist to provide you prescriptions in a Dosette box or a similar dispensing system, so that you can easily take out the dose you need.
  • Label where you store medication with information such as the dosage and expiry date.
  • If you have medication that needs to be stored in the fridge, keep it in a separate section and label it.
I have a separate part of the fridge for my medication. I keep a date in my diary when new medication is due and throw out old medication so I don’t get mixed up.
Ruby, guide dog owner

4. Set reminders to take your medication

It's important to take your medication at the right time of day at the dose prescribed by a medical professional. These tips for setting reminders can help you with your routine:

  • If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can use either the in-built calendar, notes, or reminders app to store reminders. If you use the calendar or reminder apps, you can set them to remind you to take your medication at a specific time of day. The notes app may be useful for noting the dosage instructions, but it doesn't have the reminder function.
  • On your smartphone, you can use virtual assistants, such as Siri on Apple devices or Google Assistant on Android, to create reminders in the same way you can ask a smart speaker. Take a look at our information on managing appointments for more help with using your smartphone or smart speaker to create reminders.
  • Alternatively, set an alarm on your watch or clock to remind you. You can buy talking clocks that allow you to set several alarms in one day which is helpful if you have multiple prescriptions.

5. Taking medication

Our blind hack for taking tablets out of the packet or bottle.

When you're taking your medication or refilling your pillbox, make sure you take your tablets out of the medicine bottle or blister pack over a bowl or container, in case you drop any tablets.

Use a bowl that is a contrasting colour to the tablets, so you can see them better. As most tablets are light in colour, choose a dark-coloured bowl.

Tracking your health

A range of equipment and devices are available to help you track and measure your health and wellbeing:

  • Cobolt have a range of health equipment specifically for people with vision impairments, from talking scales to talking pedometers.
  • RNIB also offer health and wellbeing devices such as talking blood pressure monitors and talking ear and forehead thermometers.
  • Apple’s Health app lets you measure and record health and fitness data and store all the information in one place on your iPhone or iPad. Other devices and apps are compatible with the Health app. For example, equipment that measures your blood glucose to help manage diabetes, or devices that measure the rhythm, rate and electrical activity of your heart to detect or manage heart disease.
  • Medical ID is a feature within the Health app where you can enter information such as your name, donor details, allergies, medical conditions and emergency contacts. As most people keep their phones on them in daily life, storing this information on your Medical ID may save your life. In an emergency, people could find it without unlocking your phone, and get the urgent medical help you need.